The Ivy League will not have a 2020-21 basketball season because of the spike in coronavirus cases, according to multiple sources. The decision was being communicated to coaches and athletes Thursday night.
The Ivies become the first NCAA Division I league to opt out of the basketball season, 13 days before the Division I campaign is permitted to start nationally.
Several weeks ago, Penn athletic director Grace Calhoun, asked about her degree of optimism or pessimism about having an Ivy League basketball season, had said, “The presidents have advised us from the early days of the pandemic — the virus will dictate what we are able to do.”
With several Ivy League campuses already considering not bringing all four classes back for the spring semester, the likelihood of having a full Ivy schedule seemed remote, and there had been consideration of whether a six-team league schedule could work. But those were October discussions, before COVID-19 statistics kept worsening.
“We have really tried to consider every possible thing that could happen and how we could still make it work,” Calhoun said in late October.
The ramifications for Ivy athletes look to be massive, regardless of what class they are in, since the Ivy League does not allow athletes to complete their eligibility while in graduate school. If that rule isn’t changed, look for many more Ivy athletes in all sports to eventually transfer out of the league to complete their eligibility after graduating.
“Winter and fall sport student-athletes will not lose a season of Ivy League or NCAA eligibility, whether or not they enroll,” the league said in the statement. “Students who wish to pursue competition during a fifth-year of undergraduate education at their home institution, if permitted, or as a graduate student elsewhere will need to work with their institutions in accordance with campus policy to determine their options beyond their current anticipated graduation date.”
The league said training and practices will be permitted “provided they are structured in accordance with each institution’s procedures and applicable state and local regulations. ... “
While the Ivy League is the first Division I league to make this call, it is fair to wonder if it will be the last. The Ivies were the first to cancel their conference basketball tournaments in March. Within days, the rest of Division I followed suit. Don’t expect that many dominoes to automatically fall this time, since many conferences already are playing football, although multiple games are being cancelled every weekend due to pandemic issues, and early basketball games also being called into question.